Friday, June 24, 2016

UK's Out Vote Is a 'Red Alert' for the Environment

From the ‘red-tape’ slashing desires of the Brexiters to the judgment of green professionals, all indications are for weaker environmental protections

Nigel Farage, Ukip leader, wants to scrap limits on pollution from power stations. (Photograph Credit: Matt Dunham/AP) Click to Enlarge.
Despite being an issue that knows no borders, affects all and is of vital interest to future generations, the environment was low on the agenda ahead of the UK’s historic vote to leave the European Union.

The short answer to what happens next with pollution, wildlife, farming, green energy, climate change and more is we don’t know – we are in uncharted territory. But all the indications – from the “red-tape” slashing desires of the Brexiters to the judgment of environmental professionals – are that the protections for our environment will get weaker.

There is one immediate impact though, right here, right now:  the crashing financial markets will damage the huge investments needed to create a cleaner and safer environment and will dent the nation’s fast-growing green economy, one economic sector where the UK could lead.

From the air we breathe to the food we eat to the climate we live in, how we protect and enhance the environment underpins the healthy and happy lives we all aspire to, now and for generations to come.

The 75% of 18-24-year-old Britons who voted to remain in the EU must be feeling betrayed by older generations today.  Why?  Because the UK’s membership of the EU has been a virtually unalloyed good for the environment.

The Brexit vote leaves it highly uncertain which protections will remain in place and the prospect of improving them seems remote.  Ukip’s Nigel Farage, the politician who did more than anyone to force the EU referendum, doesn’t even think climate change is a problem and wants to scrap pollution limits on power stations.

With 400,000 early deaths a year from air pollution – 40,000 in the UK – the EU saw things differently and set new legal limits in 2010.  Many UK cities and towns remain above those limits today and campaigners have used EU rules to successfully sue the UK government.  But UK ministers are even now fighting new EU rules to reduce early deaths.  Pollution does not stop in its tracks at national borders, and 88% of environment professionals in the UK think an EU-wide policy is needed.

Read more at UK's Out Vote Is a 'Red Alert' for the Environment

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